Max Verstappen posted the fastest lap of the first practice session ahead of the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.
The Dutchman carried on where he left off in Monaco, topping the timesheet in Barcelona courtesy of a 1:14.606 on the soft tyres that was good enough to finish almost eight tenths clear of Sergio Perez.
It might have appeared smooth sailing, but it sounded anything but from inside the cockpit, as Verstappen complained about his engine mode and porpoising.
Despite that, he was in a league of his own, with the majority of drivers struggling to get within a second of his benchmark time.
Esteban Ocon continued his fine form to take third ahead of his teammate in fifth, with Nyck de Vries surprisingly splitting the Alpines in fourth.
Home hero Fernando Alonso was the best part of a second down on the ultimate pace in sixth, perhaps underlining the superiority of the Red Bull.
Kevin Magnussen finished seventh ahead of the two Ferraris, who took to the track with very different looking cars.
The Maranello-based outfit debuted an eye-catching new sidepod design on Carlos Sainz‘s car, but he was only able to drag his SF-23 to ninth, behind Charles Leclerc in the old spec Ferrari.
George Russell rounded out the top 10 with all drivers setting their fastest time on the soft tyres.
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2.||Sergio Perez||Red Bull|
|4.||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin|
Ferrari bring new sidepods to Barcelona
Last week it was Mercedes and this week it’s Ferrari. The Italian outfit have brought updated sidepods to Spain in an attempt to bridge the gap to Red Bull.
Gone is the ‘bathtub’ design and in its place something that appears more traditional on the face of it, although only Sainz ran the upgrades.
The sidepods are much higher and less hollow, with the aim being to improve airflow to the back of the car.
However, it remains to be seen whether the new spec is better than the old. Sainz was out for the majority of the session on the mediums before strapping on the softs but didn’t seem to complete a clean lap.
That meant Leclerc actually finished FP1 ahead of his teammate, albeit in eighth.